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Wen Jiabao: China Exerts Unremitting Effort and Makes Positive Contribution to the Fight against Climate Change

On December 18, 2009, the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit was held in Denmark. Leaders from over 100 countries, as well as heads of international organizations including the UN and its special agencies attended the summit. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivered an important speech entitled "Build Consensus and Strengthen Cooperation to Advance the Historical Process of Combating Climate Change" at the summit, comprehensively elaborating the position, proposals and measures of the Chinese government to cope with climate change.

Wen said climate change is a major global challenge. It is the common mission of the entire mankind to curb global warming and save our planet. It is incumbent upon all of us, each and every country, nation, enterprise and individual to act, and act now in response to this challenge. China has taken climate change very seriously in the course of its development. Bearing in mind the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and mankind's long-term development, China has exerted unremitting effort and made positive contribution to the fight against climate change.

-- China was the first developing country to adopt and implement a National Climate Change Program. In recent yeas China has formulated a series of laws and regulations, which have been an important means for China to address climate change.

-- China has made the most intensive efforts in energy conservation and pollution reduction in recent years. By the end of the first half of this year, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP had dropped by 13 percent from the 2005 level, equivalent to reducing 800 million tons of carbon dioxide.

-- China has enjoyed the fastest growth of new energy and renewable energy. China ranked first in the world in terms of installed hydro power capacity, nuclear power capacity under construction, the coverage of solar water heating panels and photovoltaic power capacity.

-- China has the largest area of man-made forests in the world. We have continued with the large-scale endeavor to return to farmland to forest and expand a forestation. The total area of man-made forests in China has reached 45million hectares, the largest in the world.

Wen said China has a 1.3 billion population and its per capita GDP has only exceeded 3,000 U.S. dollars. According to the U.N. standards, we still have 150 million people living below the poverty line and we therefore face the arduous task of developing the economy and improving people's livelihood. China is now at an important stage of accelerated industrialization and urbanization, and, given the predominant role of coal in our energy mix, we are confronted with special difficulty in emission reduction. However, we have always regarded addressing climate change as an important strategic task. Between 1990 and 2005, China's carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP were reduced by 46 percent. Building on that, we have set the new target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions on such a large scale and over such an extended period of time will require tremendous efforts on our part. Our target will be incorporated into China's mid-and-long term plan for national economic and social development as a mandatory one to ensure that its implementation is subject to the supervision by the law and public opinions. We will further enhance the domestic-statistical, monitoring and evaluation methods, improve the way for releasing emission reduction information, increase transparency and actively engage in international exchange, dialogue and cooperation.

Wen emphasized to meet the climate challenge, the international community must strengthen confidence, build consensus, make vigorous effort and enhance cooperation. And we must always adhere to the following three principles:

First, maintaining the consistency of outcomes. The outcome of this conference must stick to rather than obscure the basic principles enshrined in the Convention and the Protocol. It must follow rather than deviate from the mandate of the "Bali Roadmap". It should lock up rather than deny the consensus and progress already achieved in the negotiations.

Second, upholding the fairness of rules. The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" represents the core and bedrock of international cooperation on climate change and it must never be compromised. Developed countries must take the lead in making deep quantified emission cuts and provide financial and technological support to developing countries. This is an unshirkable moral responsibility as well as a legal obligation that they must fulfill. Developing countries should, with the financial and technological support of developed countries, do what they can to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change in the light of their national conditions.

And third, paying attention to the practicality of the targets. In tackling climate change, we need to take a long-term perspective, but more importantly, we should focus on the present. It is necessary to set a direction for our long-term efforts, but it is even more important to focus on achieving near-term and mid-term reduction targets, honoring the commitments already made and taking real action.

Fourth, ensuring the effectiveness of institutions and mechanisms. The international community should make concrete and effective institutional arrangements under the Convention and urge developed countries to honor their commitments, provide sustained and sufficient financial support to developing countries, speed up the transfer of climate-friendly technologies and effectively help developing countries, especially small island states, least developed countries, landlocked countries and African countries, strengthen their capacity in combating climate change.

Wen concluded his speech by underlining that it is with a sense of responsibility to the Chinese people and the whole mankind that the Chinese government has set the target for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This is a voluntary action China has taken in the light of its national circumstances. We have not attached any condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country. We will honor our word with real action. Whatever outcome this conference may produce, we will be fully committed to achieving and even exceeding the target.

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